Pioneering Parenting was founded by staff and owners of Chirpy Chicks Pre-school, an award winning setting in the Ards Peninsula. The organisation was born from wanting to provide more benefits to families as part of the Pre-school’s whole family ethos. It soon became apparent that there was a lot that could be done to support families beyond what was available from statutory bodies especially in rural areas, and so to build a foundation to do more to we pioneered a course to create something new. The organisation allows us to focus on several core themes and make important links with local communities and experts to assist us. The well-being of children and their parents is of paramount importance to our mission to provide innovative support to help families on their parenting journey and our work will hopefully have a measurable impact over time.
A Healthy Mind 🧠
Good mental health is the cornerstone of well-being. When family pressures impact on how our brains work be it through a lack of sleep, not being able to find a quiet moment amongst nappy changes and bottles, trying to track down why the little one has been shouting at you for the last five hours and more eventually a limit is reached. All of this can take a toll on mental health as even if you don’t really see it and it creeps up on you and one day it goes a bit haywire. Finding time or an activity that becomes a break can be helpful, coming together with others and talking over how people cope can show parents they aren’t alone with no manual for what to do. We hope to build a series of courses and activities to address mental health awareness and ways to keep pressures in check in collaboration with experts and those who have stories to share.
A Healthy Diet 🥦
Eating healthily is another pillar of well-being, it’s the fuel that can have a big impact on how the brain is working and therefore sustaining our mental health. All that sounds great but McDonalds is way easier when the little one has finally fallen asleep in the back of the car after driving in circles for 40 miles. Also easier is after flying the spoon full of mush into tiny uncooperative mouths for an hour and missing out on dinner for yourself, you resort to crisps, cake and wine as darkness falls. Many celebrities on TV will chastise you for not spinning up the food mixer of exotic ingredients without mentioning their nanny has their kids and their driver will take them around town. There are ways to eat healthier, easier, and that work. We’ll be working with nutrition experts and chefs to help make the impossible a little more realistic.
🏃♀️ A Healthy Body 🏃♂️
Walking, hiking, running just getting outdoors and into the air and if you’re really lucky some sunshine has a huge positive effect on well-being. Organising coastal walks and outings further afield to country parks and areas of outstanding natural beauty are great ways to make time to take a break from everyday routine and recharge in the fresh air. We’ll be looking for local members of the community to suggest great places to visit and we’ll be making arrangements to get out and get moving, claiming back some personal time to be revitalised to take on life’s everyday challenges. As another part of getting moving and into the great outdoors we’re looking at gardening projects, some community initiatives to renew village areas to bring communities together, as well as having some experts to showcase what can be done in home gardens and growing some wholesome ingredients to bring to the kitchen and save a few pounds on the weekly shop.
Lifelong Learning 🎓
Lifelong learning is another way to keep renewing ourselves through acquiring new skills and interests. As important as that is it can be transformative if a parent is looking to forge a new career path to better balance family life and work which is vital for their well-being. For rural families access to education isn’t always easy with factors impacting that access ranging from the cost of travel, lack of public transport, to the distance and time needed to travel to a course simply not fitting into their busy lives. We are assessing venues and connections to training organisations to bring some of those education programmes closer to the people who can benefit from it, including investigating the construction of our own eco-friendly high-tech facility with a modern classroom environment adaptable for learners of all ages supported by renewable energy.
👩⚕️ Social Prescribing 👨⚕️
The future is social prescribing… what is social prescribing? A new growing initiative from the Public Health Agency, GPs and community organisations with a focus on health development are seeking to give Doctors another route to improving people’s well-being without directing them to medication if it can be avoided.
Instead GPs will be assessing patients and if they feel it would be of help recommending them to take part in local activities to improve their health be it mental or physical. Joining a hobby group, be it gardening, knitting, water colour art, pottery, can help alleviate the growing problem of isolation in all age groups not just the most commonly associated senior citizens group. Help with dieting and healthy eating served by cooking and nutrition courses and dance classes, and mental health awareness courses and support groups to assist those struggling to cope with today’s hectic lifestyle.
Of course GP’s will need courses and activities to prescribe people to and that’s where Pioneering Parenting hopes to be able to provide based on consultations with communities as to what would be popular and sustainable to support this vital initiative. Once those discussions have focussed on what would work and what is needed in line with our mission to provide help in the areas detailed above we will begin targeting funding to get those programmes moving.